A stronger aged care system with a focus on quality care

Record investment of more than $2.7 billion will continue to drive aged care reform and ensure the needs of senior Australians are prioritised.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said the 2020-21 Budget showcased the Morrison Government’s determination to strengthen our aged care system and keep our loved ones safe.

A $1.6 billion investment into home care packages is the centrepiece of this year’s funding for senior Australians, as the Federal Government continues to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“The Australian Government is listening, acting and working to ensure older Australians are kept safe and quality of care is retained,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Funding for aged care has grown from $13 billion in 2012-13 to nearly $24 billion this year, and will reach over $27 billion by 2023-24 representing an increase by $8 billion over the forward estimates compared to last year’s Budget.”

A record 23,000 additional home care packages – the largest allocation to date – will all be delivered at a cost of $1.6 billion this financial year.

This is on top of the 6,105 packages announced in July 2020 at a cost of $325.7 million.

It takes Government investment to almost 30,000 packages, valued at more than $1.9 billion, to be delivered in 2020.

The additional places will continue to drive down the number of people in the Home Care National Prioritisation System following a 20 per cent decrease in the year to March 2020.

The number of people receiving a home care package for the same period increased by 38 per cent and the latest commitment will ensure faster access for those who need it most.

“These packages offer a real choice for people who are seeking support in the home,” Minister Colbeck said.

It takes the total investment in home care packages to $4.6 billion or more than 73,105 packages since the 2018-19 Budget.

The Government has increased packages from 60,308 at 30 June 2013 to 155, 625 at 30 June this year and an estimated 185, 597 by 30 June 2021.

Additionally, more than $746 million from this Budget brings the Australian Government’s commitment to deliver the COVID-19 Aged Care Response Plan to a total of $1.6 billion.

This includes $245 million for facilities to provide for increased staffing costs – including managing visitations and infection control training – and a six-month extension of a 30 per cent increase to the viability and residential care homeless supplement, paid to aged care providers at a cost of $27.4 million.

More than $12.5 million will support aged care recipients and families who have been impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks, including enhanced advocacy services and increased availability of grief and trauma support services.

An investment of $10 million has also been directed to the Community Visitors Scheme which fosters friendship and companionship with older people receiving aged care services in these uncertain times.

The Morrison Government also wants to support older Australians and their families who have chosen to take their loved ones out of residential aged care during the pandemic, with $71.4 million in short term supports.

The 2020-21 Budget also includes the provision of $408.5 million for initiatives including:

  • Dementia training and support ($11.3m)
  • Implementation of the aged care workforce strategy ($10.3m)
  • Keeping young people out of residential aged care ($10.6m)
  • Preparatory work for a new funding model to support better care ($91.6m)
  • Support for the Royal Commission ($4.1m)
  • Support through the Business Improvement Fund ($35.6m)
  • Commonwealth Disability Support for Older Australians ($125.3m)
  • Investment in the Serious Incident Response Scheme ($29.8m); and
  • Developing the single in home support program for older people at home ($4.6m).

Minister Colbeck said in response to the COVID-19 special report from the Royal Commission, an additional $29.8 million will be invested toward the Serious Incident Response Scheme, marking another important step towards keeping seniors in care safe.

The Government is also focused on the delivery of a more personalised aged care sector, investing $10.8 million to attract and enhance the skills and leadership qualities of aged care nurses.

“A strong aged care sector, with a high quality and skilled workforce will provide older Australians with the care they rightly deserve and give all Australians confidence that our elderly are cared for with kindness, respect and dignity,” Minister Colbeck said.

Additionally, the Morrison Government is taking strong steps to help young people living with a disability in age care to find a more appropriate care setting.

Funding of $10.6 million will support a new team of coordinators to help younger people in or at risk of entering aged care to navigate the state and federal systems and locate more age appropriate care and services.

“This Budget also continues the Government’s work in reforming how residential aged care is funded. The next step towards the new Australian National Aged Care Classification system is preparing the way to enable independent assessments which will deliver more accurate funding to meet the care needs of residents.”

Work continues to develop a single in-home support program.

The Australian Government is also driving the implementation of the 2018 Aged Care Workforce Strategy to deliver a strong and capable workforce, by providing the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council with an additional $10.3 million.

Eligible aged care service providers will be able to access assistance through the $35.6 million Business Improvement Fund to secure a stronger and more viable aged care sector for Australia.

The Fund will help providers experiencing financial difficulties to undertake business improvement activities.

Minister Colbeck said the Budget allocations underlines the Morrison Government’s commitment as we anticipate the final report from the Royal Commission next year.

“One of the first acts of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister was to call the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“The Government has acted its Interim and COVID-19 reports and it anticipates its final recommendations when they are handed down in February.

“A strong aged care sector, with a high quality and skilled workforce will provide older Australians with the care they rightly deserve and give all Australians confidence that our elderly are cared for with kindness, respect and dignity.”

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